I often say that the best way to prevent a full-scale Russian invasion is not to chant NATO, but to forcibly strengthen Ukraine's military power. And from the generous funding of high-tech modern weapons to the creation of a real territorial defense force, which is essentially the revival and development of the rich traditions of the Ukrainian guerrilla movement and the insurgent movement. Si vis pacem, para bellum - you seek peace, prepare for war. There is no more relevant slogan for modern Ukraine.
What should our sincere allies do in a situation where they are not ready to send their soldiers to defend our land? Strengthen the military power of Ukraine in every possible way! And this means only two things: 1) supplying Ukraine with highly efficient modern weapons and 2) reducing the debt burden on the Ukrainian budget so that Ukraine can spend more on defense. Of course, the main problem of Ukraine is the vulnerability and inefficiency of the Ukrainian state and the lack of real statesmen in power. But the West is powerless to address this issue. Therefore, let us return to the two outlined theses and analyze what our partners and allies want more: to support Ukraine or to weaken Russia?
It is known that the dividing line between the US-led democratic world and increasingly self-confident autocracies runs through two epicenters: Ukraine and Taiwan. The struggle for the future of these states is key to determining the results of the historical clash between the conditional West and the conditional East.
Unlike Ukraine, Taiwan is under constant pressure from mainland China, but retains its territorial integrity and avoids direct military confrontation with Beijing. However, Kyiv's arms supply does not stand up to any comparison with US aid to Taipei. Some examples. Last year, the Biden administration delivered forty Paladin M109A6 artillery systems to Taiwan for $ 750 million. Mark-54, 56 tactical guided air bombs AGM-154C JSOW and 50 high-speed anti-radar missiles AGM-88B HARMs. And this is by no means a complete list.
And what did we get from lethal weapons during the same time? Dozens (47 to be precise) of launchers and hundreds (360) of projectiles for Javelin portable anti-tank missile systems, as well as Barrett M107A1 sniper rifles. Despite the fact that, according to all authoritative ratings, the Russian army is currently the second largest in the world, and the People's Liberation Army of China ranks only third. In terms of the number of tanks, the Russian armed forces are generally unmatched…
And I want to shout to the Americans: if you are not ready to defend our independence side by side with us, as you do in South Korea or Japan, at least give us something to defend our own land. Are we worse than Taiwan? Why is Ukraine, which is threatened by the world's second-largest army, only in the bottom of top fifty importers of American weapons? By the way, right after the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Maybe this infamous African republic is doing better with democracy or it has less corruption or the government is more stable?
And now let's move on to the Ukrainian debt. Last year, only the interest on loans paid from the state budget of Ukraine (UAH 162 billion) was 1.36 times higher than the expenditures on the Armed Forces of Ukraine (UAH 122 billion). As of September 30, 2021, the gross external debt of Ukraine amounted to a little more than $ 125 billion or UAH 3.25 trillion. Of these, public and state-guaranteed debt - a little more than $ 53 billion or 1.4 trillion UAH. It is easy to calculate that the state and state-guaranteed debt is about 11.5 times higher than the expenditures on the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Now let's remember that in the early 1990s it became a trigger for Polish success history. The traditional answer for Ukraine: Baltserovich's radical reforms. It is not entirely true. At the time of the collapse of communism (1989), Poland's foreign debt amounted to more than $ 40 billion and hung an unbearable burden on the wings of the nascent liberal economy. Poland's GDP at the time was $ 65 billion. In the spring of 1991, at talks in Paris, seventeen Polish creditor states agreed to write off at least half of Poland's debt and restructure the rest on unprecedentedly favorable terms for Poland. This became the main trigger of the Polish economic miracle.
And now let's compare the Polish case on the restructuring of Ukrainian debt, which was conducted by the then Minister of Finance Natalia Jaresko in 2015. Then the "write-off" of 20% of public debt was essentially a tax on economic growth in the future. Why the Ukrainian government, which found itself in a much more difficult situation than the Polish government in the early 1990s, did not require Western creditors to take similar approaches is an open question. It remains only to recall that in 1991 the US dollar was about twice as expensive as it is now, so in constant prices Ukraine's public debt is now less than Poland's 30-year-old debt.
Based on this brief analysis, I ask myself the troubling question of what the West really wants more: to strengthen Ukraine or to weaken Russia. These goals are by no means identical. I would gladly refrain from any sanctions pressure on Moscow if the money lost by the West through sanctions was provided to Ukraine as non-repayable financial assistance. Moreover, a serious crisis, let alone the disintegration of Russia, which some Ukrainian radicals so hope for, is by no means a boon for Ukraine. Uncontrolled chaos in a vast area east of our borders will pose far more serious challenges and risks for Ukraine than even the Putin regime. It is enough to remember the history of 100 years ago…
And this is what I fear most on the eve of next week's talks in Geneva, Brussels and Vienna. That the West would repeat the trick of the Central Powers, which German General Max Hoffmann, the main representative of the Eastern Front Command at the Brest talks, and Austria-Hungary's foreign minister Count Ottokar Chernin turned with naive UPR members in January 1918. It was they who persistently urged the Ukrainians to proclaim an independent Ukrainian state as soon as possible and to sever all ties with Russia once and forever. Why? To weaken the Bolsheviks with the hands of Ukrainians! And at the hands of the Bolsheviks to put the young republic in a position where it will be forced to invite Austro-German troops to protect it from the Red Army, and in return will literally feed foreign armies (and not only in Ukraine).
It is too tempting for American strategists to turn Ukraine into a "European Afghanistan" for Putin's Russia. Significantly weaken, marginalize and economically undermine the Putin regime at the cost of the lives of tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians. Provoke him to be imprisoned in Ukraine, as the United States was once imprisoned in Vietnam, and the Soviet Union (and later the United States again) in Afghanistan. As before, Hitler and Stalin seduced millions of Ukrainians with the ghost of the Ukrainian state, but in fact used them as cannon fodder in their bloody fight for world domination. Ukraine must do everything possible and impossible to prevent such a scenario!
I want the West to see us as "European Taiwan" and not as "Ukrainian Taliban." So that the Ukrainians were not used to weaken Russia, as they did with Kurds, abandoning them as soon as they did all the dirty work in the fight against Islamic radicals. So that instead of the mantra about "open doors" to NATO (it is unknown who and when will open it for Ukraine) they will help us with modern high-tech weapons here and now. So that our creditor partners would agree to write off at least part of the Ukrainian debt rather far-sightedly than nobly, which will allow us to better prepare for a possible war. That our Western allies (if they are truly allies) fight Russia with us, not by us…